Steph Newell wins the Sidonie Miskimin Clauss Prize from Yale College

May 6, 2022

Stephanie Newell, professor of English and interim chair, Council on African Studies, your students are dazzled by your ability to challenge them, intellectually and compassionately. You draw out and elevate students reluctant to speak up in other courses, pushing them to dig deeper as they progress through the course material.

You are known for providing helpful, consistent, and constructive feedback and are constantly modifying your course materials in creative and innovative ways, ensuring that your students are engaged in the classroom. Your students are often surprised by how passionate they become as a result of your guidance, enjoying the process of delving into course material, particularly when reading and analyzing texts.

One student, writing about your teaching, said: ‘She has a way of urging students to keep taking one step further with any argument they’re making. She does so in a way that makes students feel like they’re partnering with her on their intellectual journey…’  Another said: ‘Her feedback — simultaneously uplifting and challenging — strikes the perfect balance.’

Still another said, ‘She demands intellectual rigor and challenge from all of her students, but perhaps more significantly, requires passion, and wants us to investigate what we’re most interested in. Her seminars are the most lively I’ve ever been in, because everyone is hungering for more. She more than matches us with her own passion, intellect, and infectious laughter, which was the highlight of every Tuesday.’

The classroom environment you generate in each of your courses is nurturing and challenging while being sensitive to the ‘very painful histories and memories’ covered in some of your courses. Another student had this to say: ‘Professor Newell fostered an amazing classroom environment and was honestly the one professor who has helped me grow as a student the most. Before Professor Newell’s course, I did not speak up in class, and did not engage with my course material. Her class changed all of that. I found myself engrossed in the material, but also welcomed by the classroom environment she created. I spoke up multiple times per class, and often left the classroom with more questions.’”

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